Bastion
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Bastion is eye-wateringly beautiful

This is easy. Do you like games? How about good stories? And incredibly well made, painfully beautiful things; do you like them? Hell, do you breathe air? Then buy Bastion with the swiftness. Even if you don’t breathe air, then you should buy Bastion. It’s just that good.

Thanks for listening folks. 

You’re back? Have you bought it yet? Why on Earth not? Perhaps if I expand a little, you’ll do the right thing.

Bastion tells you a story. A beautiful, mystical, enchanting story; a story that’s touching and tinged with sadness; a story that you’ll want to listen intently to until the conclusion. And listen you will for one Bastion’s most amazing features is that it’s narrated. Completely. From beginning to end the narrator - Rucks, one of the characters you meet - not only tells you the story, but also describes your actions in-game (“The Kid rages on for a few moments”). His voice is pitch perfect and never irritating, and draws you into his tale in a way that a screen full of text will never be able to. You always want to play on to hear what’s going to be said next, how the story is going to unfold. You’ll also be trying every conceivable action just to hear what the narrator has to say about it.

I can’t tell you how much this adds to the game. I’ve never heard or played anything like this in nearly 30 years of gaming – it’s utterly astonishing.

Because of this, I’m not going to go into the story – it would spoil the game, and I can’t do that to you because you’re going to buy it, aren’t you? All I’ll say is that an event known as ‘The Calamity’ has changed the world of Caelondia for ever. The Bastion – a safe haven – has been destroyed, and your character (only ever referred to as ‘The Kid’) plays a vital role in the rebuilding of the Bastion. You’ll meet other characters who also play their parts, for better or for worse.

Sorry if that’s vague beyond belief but I just cannot spoil the story for anyone who may read this and get the game. I played the entire game with my mouth agape, utterly lost in its tale, and I hope you all do to.

Of course, if all it did were tell you a story – not matter how well told, or how wonderful that story was – things would get dull. Even I don’t want to sit at my PC and just listen to a great voice actor talk to me. You need interaction and that interaction comes in the form of some hacky-slashy action. Hmmm... what’s the best way of describing it? I suppose it’s a bit of an isometric dungeon crawler. Although that’s pushing it really – you can’t compare this with, say, Diablo or Torchlight.

As you explore the world - a series of floating areas - you find cores and shards that can be used to upgrade the Bastion, which in turn provides you with upgrades to your character. These can be upgrades to your various weapons, different tonics (that provide bonuses to The Kid), or new special moves. All this is implemented really well – the game constantly throws different enemies and situations at you that require the use of a particular skill, or that need to be approached in a particular way. You can’t just pick one weapon, one technique, and bludgeon your way through the game. I like this – it adds variety to what could’ve been a formulaic approach. In fact, I found the action thoroughly satisfying and hugely addictive throughout – I was never bored or frustrated.

There are even little sub-levels that help break up the action, such training areas where you can practice using the various weapons – perform well and you get a reward. There are other levels that let you try out completely different weapon load-outs. These are elegantly implemented and also build up the background story as well as providing training for The Kid.

Bastion is also agonisingly beautiful. The lush, seemingly hand-drawn and painted, worlds build up as you walk through them. Building blocks fly in from the edge of the screen to create walkways and scenery as you approach them. It’s all bursting with detail, colour and character and really does paint the backdrop to the tale that Rucks is spinning.

And the music! Oh God, the music! It is amazing. Perfectly judged and always entirely appropriate, it just adds to the graphics and the story and helps pull you in even deeper. There’s one tune in particular that, when combined with the story at that particular point in the game, gave me chills.

Faults? None. If I had to be picky: the isometric viewpoint can sometimes lead to you falling off the levels. However, this only happened twice to me – both times due to my staggering ineptitude.

Understand this: the only reason I haven’t given this 10/10 is because my partner talked me out of it. “Nothing’s perfect”, she said, completely overlooking my beard. And I suppose she’s right, but I cannot find fault in Bastion. It’s extraordinary and deeply special, and without doubt the best game I’ve played in years.

You have to get this. You just have to.

This scene gave me goosebumps